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Profile: Robert Cummins (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
  1. Robert C. Cummins, James Blackmon, David Byrd, Pierre Poirier & Martin Roth, I. Background.
    The current debate over systematicity concerns the formal conditions a scheme of mental representation must satisfy in order to explain the systematicity of thought.1 The systematicity of thought is assumed to be a pervasive property of minds, and can be characterized (roughly) as follows: anyone who can think T can think systematic variants of T, where the systematic variants of T are found by permuting T’s constituents. So, for example, it is an alleged fact that anyone who can think the (...)
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  2. Robert C. Cummins & Martin Roth (forthcoming). Meaning and Content in Cognitive Science. In Richard Schantz (ed.), Prospects for Meaning. de Gruyter.
    What are the prospects for a cognitive science of meaning? As stated, we think this question is ill posed, for it invites the conflation of several importantly different semantic concepts. In this paper, we want to distinguish the sort of meaning that is an explanandum for cognitive science—something we are going to call meaning—from the sort of meaning that is an explanans in cognitive science—something we are not going to call meaning at all, but rather content. What we are going (...)
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  3. Robert Cummins, Martin Roth & Ian Harmon (2014). Why It Doesn't Matter to Metaphysics What Mary Learns. Philosophical Studies 167 (3):541-555.
    The Knowledge Argument of Frank Jackson has not persuaded physicalists, but their replies have not dispelled the intuition that someone raised in a black and white environment gains genuinely new knowledge when she sees colors for the first time. In what follows, we propose an explanation of this particular kind of knowledge gain that displays it as genuinely new, but orthogonal to both physicalism and phenomenology. We argue that Mary’s case is an instance of a common phenomenon in which something (...)
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  4. Martin Roth & Robert Cummins (2014). Two Tales of Functional Explanation. Philosophical Psychology 27 (6):773-788.
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  5. Robert C. Cummins & Denise Dellarosa Cummins (2012). Emotion and Deliberative Reasoning in Moral Judgment. Frontiers in Psychology 3.
    According to an influential dual-process model, a moral judgment is the outcome of a rapid, affect-laden process and a slower, deliberative process. If these outputs conflict, decision time is increased in order to resolve the conflict. Violations of deontological principles proscribing the use of personal force to inflict intentional harm are presumed to elicit negative affect which biases judgments early in the decision-making process. This model was tested in three experiments. Moral dilemmas were classified using (a) decision time and consensus (...)
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  6. Robert Cummins (2010). The World in the Head. OUP Oxford.
    The World in the Head collects the best of Robert Cummins' papers on mental representation and psychological explanation. Running through these papers are a pair of themes: that explaining the mind requires functional analysis, not subsumption under "psychological laws", and that the propositional attitudes--belief, desire, intention--and their interactions, while real, are not the key to understanding the mind at a fundamental level. Taking these ideas seriously puts considerable strain on standard conceptions of rationality and reasoning, on truth-conditional semantics, and on (...)
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  7. Robert Cummins & Martin Roth (2010). Traits Have Not Evolved to Function the Way They Do Because of a Past Advantage. In Francisco José Ayala & Robert Arp (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology. Wiley-Blackwell Pub.. 72--88.
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  8. James Blackmon, David Byrd, Robert C. Cummins, Alexa Lee & Martin Roth (2006). Representation and Unexploited Content. In Graham F. Macdonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics. Oxford University Press.
    In this paper, we introduce a novel difficulty for teleosemantics, viz., its inability to account for what we call unexploited content—content a representation has, but which the system that harbors it is currently unable to exploit. In section two, we give a characterization of teleosemantics. Since our critique does not depend on any special details that distinguish the variations in the literature, the characterization is broad, brief and abstract. In section three, we explain what we mean by unexploited content, and (...)
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  9. James Blackmon, David Byrd, Robert C. Cummins, Pierre Poirier & Martin Roth (2005). Atomistic Learning in Non-Modular Systems. Philosophical Psychology 18 (3):313-325.
    We argue that atomistic learning?learning that requires training only on a novel item to be learned?is problematic for networks in which every weight is available for change in every learning situation. This is potentially significant because atomistic learning appears to be commonplace in humans and most non-human animals. We briefly review various proposed fixes, concluding that the most promising strategy to date involves training on pseudo-patterns along with novel items, a form of learning that is not strictly atomistic, but which (...)
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  10. Denise D. Cummins & Robert C. Cummins (2005). Innate Modules Vs Innate Learning Biases. Cognitive Processing.
    Proponents of the dominant paradigm in evolutionary psychology argue that a viable evolutionary cognitive psychology requires that specific cognitive capacities be heritable and “quasi-independent” from other heritable traits, and that these requirements are best satisfied by innate cognitive modules. We argue here that neither of these are required in order to describe and explain how evolution shaped the mind.
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  11. Robert C. Cummins, James Blackmon & David Byrd (2005). What Systematicity Isn't. Journal of Philosophical Research 30:405-408.
    In “On Begging the Systematicity Question,” Wayne Davis criticizes the suggestion of Cummins et al. that the alleged systematicity of thought is not as obvious as is sometimes supposed, and hence not reliable evidence for the language of thought hypothesis. We offer a brief reply.
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  12. Robert C. Cummins & Pierre Poirier (2004). Representation and Indication. In Hugh Clapin (ed.), Representation in Mind. Elsevier. 21--40.
    This paper is about two kinds of mental content and how they are related. We are going to call them representation and indication. We will begin with a rough characterization of each. The differences, and why they matter, will, hopefully, become clearer as the paper proceeds.
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  13. Robert C. Cummins, Pierre Poirier & Martin Roth (2004). Epistemological Strata and the Rules of Right Reason. Synthese 141 (3):287 - 331.
    It has been commonplace in epistemology since its inception to idealize away from computational resource constraints, i.e., from the constraints of time and memory. One thought is that a kind of ideal rationality can be specified that ignores the constraints imposed by limited time and memory, and that actual cognitive performance can be seen as an interaction between the norms of ideal rationality and the practicalities of time and memory limitations. But a cornerstone of naturalistic epistemology is that normative assessment (...)
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  14. Denise D. Cummins, Robert C. Cummins & Pierre Poirier (2003). Cognitive Evolutionary Psychology Without Representational Nativism. Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 15 (2):143-159.
    A viable evolutionary cognitive psychology requires that specific cognitive capacities be (a) heritable and (b) ‘quasi-independent’ from other heritable traits. They must be heritable because there can be no selection for traits that are not. They must be quasi-independent from other heritable traits, since adaptive variations in a specific cognitive capacity could have no distinctive consequences for fitness if effecting those variations required widespread changes in other unrelated traits and capacities as well. These requirements would be satisfied by innate cognitive (...)
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  15. Andre Ariew, Robert C. Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.) (2002). Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology. Oxford University Press.
    But what are functions? Here, 15 leading scholars of philosophy of psychology and philosophy of biology present new essays on functions.
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  16. Robert Cummins (2002). Comments on Smith on Cummins. In Hugh Clapin (ed.), Philosophy of Mental Representation. Clarendon Press.
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  17. Robert C. Cummins (2002). Haugeland on Representation and Intentionality. In Hugh Clapin (ed.), Philosophy of Mental Representation. Oxford University Press.
    Haugeland doesn’t have what I would call a theory of mental representation. Indeed, it isn’t clear that he believes there is such a thing. But he does have a theory of intentionality and a correlative theory of objectivity, and it is this material that I will be discussing in what follows. It will facilitate the discussion that follows to have at hand some distinctions and accompanying terminology I introduced in Representations, Targets and Attitudes (Cummins, 1996; RTA hereafter). Couching the discussion (...)
     
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  18. Robert C. Cummins (2002). Neo-Teleology. In Andre Ariew, Robert E. Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.), Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology. Oxford University Press.
    Neo-teleology is the two part thesis that, e.g., (i) we have hearts because of what hearts are for: Hearts are for blood circulation, not the production of a pulse, so hearts are there--animals have them--because their function is to circulate the blood, and (ii) that (i) is explained by natural selection: traits spread through populations because of their functions. This paper attacks this popular doctrine. The presence of a biological trait or structure is not explained by appeal to its function. (...)
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  19. Robert C. Cummins, Truth and Meaning.
    D O N A L D D AV I D S O N’S “ Meaning and Truth,” re vo l u t i o n i zed our conception of how truth and meaning are related (Davidson    ). In that famous art i c l e , Davidson put forw a rd the bold conjecture that meanings are satisfaction conditions, and that a Tarskian theory of truth for a language is a theory of meaning for that language. (...)
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  20. James Blackmon, David Byrd, Robert C. Cummins, Pierre Poirier, Martin Roth & George Schwarz (2001). Systematicity and the Cognition of Structured Domains. Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):1-19.
    The current debate over systematicity concerns the formal conditions a scheme of mental representation must satisfy in order to explain the systematicity of thought.1 The systematicity of thought is assumed to be a pervasive property of minds, and can be characterized (roughly) as follows: anyone who can think T can think systematic variants of T, where the systematic variants of T are found by permuting T’s constituents. So, for example, it is an alleged fact that anyone who can think the (...)
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  21. Robert Cummins, James Blackmon, David Byrd, Pierre Poirier, Martin Roth & Georg Schwarz (2001). Systematicity and the Cognition of Structured Domains. Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):167 - 185.
    The current debate over systematicity concerns the formal conditions a scheme of mental representation must satisfy in order to explain the systematicity of thought.1 The systematicity of thought is assumed to be a pervasive property of minds, and can be characterized (roughly) as follows: anyone who can think T can think systematic variants of T, where the systematic variants of T are found by permuting T’s constituents. So, for example, it is an alleged fact that anyone who can think the (...)
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  22. Robert C. Cummins (2000). "How Does It Work" Versus "What Are the Laws?": Two Conceptions of Psychological Explanation. In F. Keil & Robert A. Wilson (eds.), Explanation and Cognition, 117-145. MIT Press.
    In the beginning, there was the DN (Deductive Nomological) model of explanation, articulated by Hempel and Oppenheim (1948). According to DN, scientific explanation is subsumption under natural law. Individual events are explained by deducing them from laws together with initial conditions (or boundary conditions), and laws are explained by deriving them from other more fundamental laws, as, for example, the simple pendulum law is derived from Newton's laws of motion.
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  23. Robert C. Cummins (2000). Reply to Millikan. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (1):113-127.
  24. Robert C. Cummins & Denise Dellarosa Cummins (eds.) (2000). Minds, Brains, and Computers: An Anthology. Blackwell.
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  25. Denise D. Cummins & Robert C. Cummins (1999). Biological Preparedness and Evolutionary Explanation. Cognition 73 (3):B37-B53.
    It is commonly supposed that evolutionary explanations of cognitive phenomena involve the assumption that the capacities to be explained are both innate and modular. This is understandable: independent selection of a trait requires that it be both heritable and largely decoupled from other `nearby' traits. Cognitive capacities realized as innate modules would certainly satisfy these contraints. A viable evolutionary cognitive psychology, however, requires neither extreme nativism nor modularity, though it is consistent with both. In this paper, we seek to show (...)
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  26. Denise Dellarosa Cummins & Robert Cummins (1999). Biological Preparedness and Evolutionary Explanation. Cognition 73 (3):B37-B53.
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  27. Robert C. Cummins (1998). Reflection on Reflective Equilibrium. In Michael DePaul & William Ramsey (eds.), Rethinking Intuition. Rowman & Littlefield. 113-128.
    As a procedure, reflective equilibrium (RE) is simply a familiar kind of standard scientific method with a new name. (For descriptions of reflective equilibrium, see Daniels 1979, 1980b, 1984; Goodman 1965; Rawls 1971.) A theory is constructed to account for a set of observations. Recalcitrant data may be rejected as noise or explained away as the effects of interference of some sort. Recalcitrant data that cannot be plausibly dismissed force emendations in theory. What counts as a plausible dismissal depends, among (...)
     
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  28. Robert C. Cummins (1997). The LOT of the Causal Theory of Mental Content. Journal of Philosophy 94 (10):535-542.
    The thesis of this paper is that the causal theory of mental content (hereafter CT) is incompatible with an elementary fact of perceptual psychology, namely, that the detection of distal properties generally requires the mediation of a “theory.” I shall call this fact the nontransducibility of distal properties (hereafter NTDP). The argument proceeds in two stages. The burden of stage one is that, taken together, CT and the language of thought hypothesis (hereafter LOT) are incompatible with NTDP. The burden of (...)
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  29. Robert C. Cummins (1996). Representations, Targets, and Attitudes. MIT Press.
  30. Robert C. Cummins (1996). Systematicity. Journal of Philosophy 93 (12):591-614.
  31. Robert C. Cummins (1996). Why There is No Symbol Grounding Problem? In Representations, Targets, and Attitudes. MIT Press.
     
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  32. Robert C. Cummins (1995). Connectionist and the Rationale Constraint on Cognitive Explanations. Philosophical Perspectives 9:105-25.
  33. Robert Cummins (1994). Interpretational Semantics. In Steven P. Stitch & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), mental representation: a reader. Blackwell.
     
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  34. Robert C. Cummins (1993). Book Review:A Theory of Content and Other Essays Jerry Fodor. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 60 (1):172-.
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  35. Robert C. Cummins (1992). Cross Domain Inference and Problem Embedding. In Robert E. Cummins & John L. Pollock (eds.), Philosophy and AI: Essays at the Interface. MIT Press.
    I.1. Two reasons for studying inference. Inference is studied for two distinct reasons: for its bearing on justification and for its bearing on learning. By and large, philosophy has focused on the role of inference in justification, leaving its role in learning to psychology and artificial intelligence. This difference of role leads to a difference of conception. An inference based theory of learning does not require a conception of inference according to which a good inference is one that justifies its (...)
     
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  36. Robert C. Cummins (1992). Conceptual Role Semantics and the Explanatory Role of Content. Philosophical Studies 65 (1-2):103-127.
    I've tried to argue that there is more to representational content than CRS can acknowledge. CRS is attractive, I think, because of its rejection of atomism, and because it is a plausible theory of targets. But those are philosopher's concerns. Someone interested in building a person needs to understand representation, because, as AI researchers have urged for some time, good representation is the secret of good performance. I have just gestured in the direction I think a viable theory of representation (...)
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  37. Robert C. Cummins & John L. Pollock (eds.) (1992). Philosophy and AI: Essays at the Interface. MIT Press.
    Philosophy and AI presents invited contributions that focus on the different perspectives and techniques that philosophy and AI bring to the theory of ...
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  38. Robert C. Cummins (1991). Form, Interpretation, and the Uniqueness of Content: A Response to Morris. [REVIEW] Minds and Machines 1 (1):31-42.
    In response to Michael Morris, I attempt to refute the crucial second premise of the argument, which states that the formality condition cannot be satisfied “non-stipulatively” in computational systems. I defend the view of representation urged in Meaning and Mental Representation against the charge that it makes content stipulative and therefore irrelevant to the explanation of cognition. Some other reservations are expressed.
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  39. Robert C. Cummins (1991). The Role of Mental Meaning in Psychological Explanation. In Brian P. McLaughlin (ed.), Dretske and His Critics. Blackwell.
  40. Robert C. Cummins (1991). Methodological Reflections on Belief. In R. Bogdan (ed.), Mind and Common Sense. Cambridge University Press. 53--70.
  41. Robert C. Cummins (ed.) (1991). Philosophy and AI. Cambridge: MIT Press.
    Philosophy and AI presents invited contributions that focus on the different perspectives and techniques that philosophy and AI bring to the theory of ...
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  42. Robert C. Cummins (1991). The Role of Representation in Connectionist Explanation of Cognitive Capacities. In William Ramsey, Stephen P. Stich & D. Rumelhart (eds.), Philosophy and Connectionist Theory. Lawrence Erlbaum. 91--114.
  43. Robert C. Cummins & Georg Schwarz (1991). Connectionism, Computation, and Cognition. In Terence E. Horgan & John L. Tienson (eds.), Connectionism and the Philosophy of Mind. Kluwer. 60--73.
  44. Robert C. Cummins (1989). Meaning and Mental Representation. MIT Press.
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  45. Robert C. Cummins (1989). Representation and Covariation. In Stuart Silvers (ed.), ReRepresentation. Kluwer.
     
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  46. Robert Cummins (1988). Computation and Cognition. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 18 (1):147-162.
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  47. Robert C. Cummins & Georg Schwarz (1987). Radical Connectionism. Southern Journal of Philosophy Supplement 26 (S1):43-61.
  48. Robert C. Cummins (1986). Inexplicit Information. In Myles Brand & Robert M. Harnish (eds.), The Representation of Knowledge and Belief. University of Arizona Press.
     
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  49. Robert C. Cummins (1984). The Mind of the Matter: Comments on Paul Churchland. Philosophy of Science Association 1984:791 - 798.
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  50. Robert Cummins (1983). Information and Cognitive Agents. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 6 (1):68.
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